During the height of the COVID pandemic, I saw, first hand, the impact that lockdowns and school closures were having on young people and their parents. When searching for resources to help young people, there was an abundance. However, I realised that parents needed just as much support as young people did; 21st century young people have a very different upbringing to most of their parents and so understanding 21st century young people is more complicated.
Today, young people experience far more during their formative years and have exposure to far more dangers, mainly through the medium of social media and online interactions. Most parents do not understand how social media and online interactions work and so they do not understand how to keep their children safe or how to support them when something does go wrong.
Often, educators will call parents in for meetings to discuss something that their child has done which has either been wrong, has put them in danger, or both. More often than not, the parents have no idea how the situation has arisen and it’s even worse when they realise the severity of the situation.
‘But, I deleted his social media accounts,’ is a common response. ‘We put a filter on so she can’t access the internet after 9pm,’ is another. Where most parents, with their limited knowledge and understanding of the digital world, think they have made it secure for their child, their child has circumvented that security within seconds. This isn’t because young people are inherently bad, it’s simply because the digital world is just as important to them as the physical world and denying them access to it is like cutting off an arm or a leg. Parents trying to block access to the digital world only exacerbate the problem and that’s mainly because they do not understand the digital world.
From this, What do Parents Know? was born. This brand new podcast sees me talk to professionals and people with lived experience in a range of areas that affect teenagers, ranging from the digital to the physical world. The target audience is parents and each episode focuses on the general theme, how parents can spot the signs of the theme, what parents can do to support their child and where they can go for further advice and guidance.
So far, episodes have been released on topics such as gambling, online gaming, child sexual exploitation, social media, drugs and more. Each episode is designed to be easy to listen to and is a conversation between the guest and me, with questions focusing on increasing parental awareness, which, in turn, should increase parental support.
My simple mantra as an educator and a parent is that if you do not understand your child’s world, how can you support them in their world? Listening to this podcast will enable you to have a greater understanding of the exposure young people have to the dangers of the world around them and it will provide you with advice and guidance on how to keep your children safe.
The other important thing this podcast does is that it opens up communication channels. I have experienced many parents that won’t talk to their children about certain things because they don’t understand it, they don’t think it’s important or they it’s too much of a taboo to discuss. Nobody ever thinks their child is going to be the victim of child sexual abuse or that their child is going to start carrying a knife or that their child is going to develop an online gambling addiction. But, all of these things happen and they happen because young people do not receive the education and support they need and because parents do not have the knowledge or understanding to communicate with their children. This fundamental problem in modern society needs to be fixed and it can only be done so by parents learning about the world their child lives in.
You can follow What Do Parents Know? on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for regular updates about episodes and wider parental support.
New episodes are released every Monday and can be listened to using the following link: https://whatdoparentsknow.buzzsprout.com
Episodes can also be listened to on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and a range of other podcast apps.
Please do like, share and subscribe so that more parents can have access to vital information to support them in supporting their child.
Amit teaches GCSE and A-Level Geography and Politics. He is also the Deputy Headteacher of his school. To book a lesson with him, or one of our other excellent tutors, please call us on 020 3198 8006, email us at [email protected], or complete the form on the ‘Contact Us’ page.